What we learned in 2020
So this was Christmas and like John Lennon said what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun... And yes, this is another blog reflecting on the year that has gone. While we are not reinventing the wheel as far as new year's reflections go, we are giving you a glimpse of what we keep from this last year, and what a year it was. One of those resembling a long difficult winter that exists to make summer a little more beautiful.
2020 will be an unforgettable year for so many people for various reasons, like every year before that. What makes this year special is that one common element impacted the entire world simultaneously. It had been a while since the entire planet had something in common...
As always, on this planet we are either entering a crisis, in a crisis, or leaving a crisis behind us. And while it would be nice to live in a world without crises or problems it is just not how our lovely blue planet operates. So how do we cope? By practicing optimism in the realm of pragmatism in order to benefit from both.
As John C. Maxwell says, "Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn".
So, this is some of what Just Us Dads learned in 2020.
IT IS HARD TO FEEL GOOD IN A BAD NEWS WORLD
The world is a pretty dismal place and we don’t need to be reminded of this every single second of the day. But with all the media that surrounds us, we are.
We need to treat social media like an appliance with an off button. Because unfortunately, the adage “garbage in – garbage out” is a misnomer. The reality is, garbage in - garbage stay - and it stays long enough to make little baby garbage as well.
Hence, protect your brain, avoid pity parties and the constant griping that often consumes so much of everyday conversations.
Challenge your emotions, keep them in check and don't let them control who you are and what you do. Remind yourself of all the good that exists in your life because you need to feel good in order to create a good news day. That being said, I remind you that...
VICTIMS CAN’T BE HEROES
We need to become bigger than our problems, only then can we ever attempt to solve them. We do this by adapting to new situations, adopting new habits and thus becoming adept in the crisis. Open yourself up to new learning.
DON’T DO IT NOW, DO IT RIGHT NOW
Don’t procrastinate anymore – life is short.
Don’t underestimate the magic of part-time. You don't need to change everything at once. Even a few minutes a day learning or working on something new can make a significant impact on the betterment of your life. The perfect day to start will never come so make a perfect start to any day.
Don’t sit there counting the days, make the days count.
Coolio might have said that “too much television watching had him chasing dreams” but too much television watching will eventually stand in the way of catching said dreams. Not to mention the impact on your exercising regiment...here is my next take away.
TREAT YOUR EXERCISE LIKE A RICH PERSON HANDLES HIS INVESTING
I had extra time during this year's confinement with the no commuting and all. I imagined myself using it for the thing I always left undone due to "time" (exercise) and yet I didn't. I don't think a wealthy investor would ever say "no time to look after those investments today... oh well better luck tomorrow...”.
The analogy: Poor people spend their money and invest what’s left, while the rich invest their money and spend what’s left.
Healthy people schedule their workout time and then spend their time doing everything else, while unhealthy people do everything else and then have no time to exercise.
Bottom line, you can’t manage time, only priorities so make it one and schedule it in, preferably in bold, maybe highlight it as well……….in neon!!
Since we spoke about investors it is only fitting that the next one be about money, and if we can all agree that in this pandemic gratitude is king, then...
CASH IS QUEEN
Don’t live within your means, live below your means. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Money doesn't take away all your stress but having some aside sure reduces it.
Now there is something else that can either bring on stress or magically take it all away just by being present - our kids!
WHEN IT COMES TO TIME SPENT WITH YOUR KIDS, DON’T THINK QUALITY VERSUS QUATITY, THINK BOTH – ALWAYS
For the first time in a long time, I got to spend TIME with my kids. Bringing kids places like soccer practices, ballet, birthday parties, is not actually spending time with them. This year, we got to spend time together just being together, we weren't always doing important things but whatever we were doing we were doing it together. Whether it was just having breakfast or playing board games we were spending our time - you guessed it - together. This is how I realized that I should not worry about the quality of the activity I do with my kids just that I do things with them. If you ask them, quantity always wins.
George T’s turn
As every year comes to a close, we often have the impulse of looking back and reflecting. Were the goals that we set achieved or not? Did we fulfill our promises or failed at the task? Did we grow positively and productively, or did we digress?How did we do in our business? In our finances? With our family and friends? With our health? Surely, much is to be said about 2020. However, as hundreds of thousands of people around us are counting losses, be it their jobs, their finances, their health or, worse, their loved ones, the usual reflection feels a little misplaced. This year has thus been a giant introspection on how lucky I am.
I’ve often spoken about how, for many people ending a career in politics, it isn’t always obvious on what comes next. More often than not, political staffers are usually left competing against their former colleagues who, chances are, have also seen their positions come to an end due to a change in government or have lost their election and therefore their jobs. That is of course, if their career and reputation haven’t been stained with partisanship or any other form of disdain for politics. Thankfully, I had taken the right precautions, along with my wife, to start developing her family’s business long before any election rendezvous was on the horizon.
Though the family business had already become my wife’s main source of income, it was my security blanket in case things went south with politics. We played our cards right, since in 2018 the day came for me to turn the page. Already I felt fortunate for having something to fall back on. However, it wasn’t until this year, that I really got to fully comprehend how lucky we are.
When the pandemic hit Canada, we had already witnessed the sad and tragic developments experienced in other countries beforehand. We knew what was coming and how hard things were suddenly going to be. However, lady luck came to our rescue as our industry was considered an essential service and we were allowed to continue, business as usual, with extremely minor adjustments. I think I’ve lost count of how many friends and acquaintances suffered for having restaurants or any other “non-essential” businesses. What a destructive year they must have had!
Gratitude is most definitely on top of my list this year. Considering the circumstances, we did well, our families are safe and healthy, and we go to bed and wake up every day fulfilled. In any setting that’s a positive but especially this year!
PATIENCE PUT TO THE TEST
Even though we all knew, at the very start of the year, that things were likely going to be different, I have to admit that I was overly confident that it would all have ended much sooner. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone to think that. I was off! Way off!
With the mounting government restrictions and confinement measures, it also meant the changing of a routine and of a certain normalcy. More time at home meant dealing with stresses that we didn’t necessarily have to deal with in the past. More chores, new home projects, redecorations, the constant presence of the kids, dealing with their new schedules, the nagging, the crying, the potty training, “Come here”, “Go there”, “We need this”, “Fix this”, “Fix that”, STOP!!!!! Take a breath, relax, calm down, it’s all good…
We all love our wives and kids, but let’s be honest, being the humans we all are, we also value our own space. In fact, I think we all need to in order to maintain some sort of sanity.
I know I lost my cool more than once. Quite often I wasn’t myself. I would catch myself complaining for no good reason, blaming others for things they had nothing to do with, felt useless, felt frustrated and most definitely discovered my impatience.
However, I think experiencing this, throughout this year, also made me realize the observation I mentioned earlier about how grateful I am.
While others were losing loved ones, I had mine within eyesight almost 24 hours every day! I think I spent more time with my wife this year than we’ve spent in the twelve years we’ve known each other (grossly exaggerated, but you get my point!). Yes, there were challenging moments but we pulled through! I think that’s what matters most. Maybe sometimes we need to be shaken. Maybe we need to be challenged. How else would I have realized how lucky we were this year compared to others? In fact, not only was my patience tested, but so was my compassion, my sensitivity and empathy towards others in need. This year I gave more money to charities than ever before; read more about different causes than ever before and discovered more organizations and the people behind them; questioned other people’s reality more than ever before; called friends and family more than ever before just to check up on them and just to see what’s up.
Despite the hardships that this pandemic has brought onto the world, I feel as though we have become human again, more caring, more loving and definitely more appreciative.
KIDS ADAPT, SO SHOULD WE!
With everything mentioned above I would be remiss if I didn’t give all the credit to my kids. They were subjected to so much that they just didn’t really understand. But they faced their own challenges as well. Like I said earlier, we all need our space and so do they. They need their daycare, with their friends and their educators. They need their activities and all the kiddy chit-chat that goes on with their little friends. Suddenly they lost it all. Suddenly there was no summer camp, no ballet lessons, no swimming lessons, no gymnastics, no parks, nothing! They probably noticed their parents’ frustrations that added onto to their own, they questioned everything that in a blink of an eye seemed to be taken away from them and they probably wondered if this was going to be their new reality.
The amazing thing about kids – at least ours – was how fast they turned things around and blended into this new reality. It almost feels like their little brains, realizing how things were now different, rebooted at lightning speed and rewired everything for them to accept it and keep on being kids!
We’re so consumed by our daily routine that we forget about our innate ability to adapt. I’m so fortunate, yet also somewhat surprised, to have gotten this lesson by a two-year old and a five-year old (that just recently tuned six).
As parents, we obviously have an obligation to raise proper beings into this world but I also think that there’s much we can also learn from them. We often tend to overlook that. For me, it’s definitely something to ponder on in the next year.
George P was a little less verbal about what he learned, maybe because he knew too much to begin with or maybe because what he learned had such a big impact. Who knows ??
I’M NOT CUT-OUT TO BE AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER
I think this one requires no explanation, so I won't give any. I will just say that I am forever grateful that someone out there is willing to teach my kids how to read, write and do math and that that someone is not me!
LIFE IS GREAT CONSIDERING HOW MUCH WORSE IT COULD HAVE BEEN
Even though life this year was not how I would have liked it to be it could have been so much worse. I am thankful for all that I have but most importantly all those I have.
POLITICIANS CAN’T DO MATH
…or at least some can't. Basically, don't expect them to care for your well-being. While they may sometimes have the right intentions, do you really want to depend on them and wait to find out how well they can execute their plans? Get your ducks in order. This way, no matter what decisions are taken, whether you will be ok, depends only on you.
You might have noticed that we all had one common take away and we hope that we can remind you how important it is. Gratitude!
Only when you can appreciate what you have can you truly be content with your life. Take a few minutes every morning and a few before going to bed to think about what you cannot lose and then appreciate that you have it. While there are countless beautiful quotes about gratitude, I will leave you with the one on my trusted coffee mug, bought in a big box store “Love what you have”.